1. Drinking for thinking and shrinking

    Imbibing findings that jibe - and some that are jive

    Drinking for thinking and shrinking

    Hark! More good health news for those who imbibe -- men and women both

    First, the ladies (naturally): According to a recent study conducted by the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, moderate alcohol consumption among older women resulted in measurably higher levels of mental function compared to non-drinkers. Previous studies have connected moderate drinking with a reduction in the risk of dementia and cognitive decline among both sexes.

    The study, published in a recent online issue of the journal Neuroepidemiology, winnowed its conclusions from data involving nearly 10,000 women aged 65 or older. These women were enrolled in either of two Women's Health Initiative studies -- the Memory Study or the Cognitive Aging Study. These national studies are designed to measure the ongoing effects of hormone therapy on dementia and cognitive function.

    But a fringe benefit of all that data is the ability to analyze it for the effects of other factors, like alcohol consumption. And like I said earlier, healthy women over 65 who consumed 2 to 3 alcoholic drinks per day performed better on tests involving concentration, memory, language, and abstract reasoning -- with strongest benefits in the area of verbal function

    So I guess it must be true what they say about conversations running more smoothly when "lubricated."

    Now, I promised good news for the drinking men-folk as well, and I won't disappoint

    A recent Associated Press article summarized an Oregon State University study that pinpointed a specific chemical compound called xanthohumol (a flavonoid) present in hops that inhibits a cancer-causing protein on the surface of the prostate gland. This likely translates into a reduced risk of prostate cancer and enlargement.

    And as any drinker knows, hops is a main ingredient in BEER!

    Of course, the study's authors wouldn't commit to endorsing beer as a cancer preventative (I will, however) -- in fact, they kind of killed my "beer buzz" over the findings by suggesting that the best source of xanthohumol in the future might well be a concentrated flavonoid pill produced by


    They just don't get it, do they? Drinking is good for you, as long as you're in good health and don't overdo it. And study after study proves or implies it, despite what some in the drug-dependent medical mainstream seem bent on concluding from the data.

    And speaking of alcohol-related buzz-kills from mainstream pointy-heads

    A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions found that fully 15% of the American workforce is potentially under the influence of alcohol at any given moment.

    The study came to this conclusion by polling 2,805 employed adults across the continental U.S. about their alcohol consumption over the past year -- specifically with regard to this consumption's proximity to working hours

    Though this seems pretty straightforward at first glance, I find the study's premises suspect. For one thing, they define "under the influence" as not simply being impaired at work, but also feeling hungover to any degree while at work, drinking any amount of alcohol while on the job, or imbibing within two hours of having to report to work.

    Now granted, a hangover often indicates excessive consumption and prior impairment -- but not necessarily a current state of impairment. Some people suffer from the effects of the impurities in alcohol (essentially what a hangover is) long after the actual impairment has ceased. It's unfair to uniformly categorize anyone who has worked with an achy head from a couple pints of skunky beer from the local watering hole's dirty taps as "under the influence of alcohol" at work the next day

    Beyond this, drinking is an integral part of certain jobs -- especially in the high-powered business world. Corporate executives and deal-makers "wine and dine" their clients over lubricated lunches or after rounds of golf, day-cruises, or other junkets all the time. It's how business is done.

    Frankly, I'm surprised the study's finding is that ONLY 15% of the American workforce can be classified as "under the influence" at any given moment -- their research criteria are so strict that I'm beginning to think we're a nation of teetotalers

    And that, my friends, would surely be an impairment -- to health!

    Imbibing and surviving, but never jiving,

    William Campbell Douglass II, MD

  2. Overall Benefits of Tipping a Daily Glass or Two

    Overall Benefits of Tippinga Daily Glass or Two

    Glasses for lasses

    Good drinking = good thinking

    As you well know, a regular feature of the Daily Dose involves me singing the praises of moderate consumption of alcohol. It's an easy topic to revisit often, since lots of studies are proving the health plusses of responsible drinking. Often, this research focuses on the overall benefits of tipping a daily glass or two - things like an increased resistance to heart disease, certain cancers, etc.

    But rarely do such studies separate out these effects respective to the sexes. Although an occasional nip is good for just about everybody, men and women can benefit in different ways. I've come across some studies that show that regular imbibing can carry some particularly attractive benefits for women.

    First off is the U.S. study of women over 70 that concluded a daily alcoholic drink may stave off age-related mental decline. As reported in 2005 by the New England Journal of Medicine, a Harvard University-affiliated study reinforces previous studies' suggestion that moderate drinking may reduce the effects of dementia.

    This research, conducted on a sample of over 11,000 women aged 70-81 for 2 full years, found that those who consumed at least one alcoholic beverage every day scored better on cognitive and memory tests than non-drinkers. The drinkers were also found to run lower risks of mental impairment and cognitive decline over time than the teetotalers. The study made no distinction between types of alcohol: Beer, wine, and liquor all seemed to contribute to the positive effects.

    The study's author, a doctor from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, theorized that alcohol's proven benefits to the heart and blood vessels may also be the root causes of its brain-boosting powers - via improved circulation and blood cholesterol, and by aiding in the body's insulin processing.

    Encouraging news, huh ladies?

    But that's only the beginning: Some Portuguese research found that compounds called polyphenols - antioxidants in wine and beer long known to have anticancer and antiviral properties - appear to significantly reduce women's risk of breast cancer. Keep reading


    Beer batters wine and liquor in cancer fighting?

    Even the medical establishment has embraced polyphenols (antioxidant compounds in beer and wine) as powerful weapons against heart disease for people of both sexes, and all ages. But most research lately has focused on the polyphenols found in red wine, specifically a powerful one called resveratrol.

    But here's an interesting note about polyphenols, courtesy of the British Beer and Pub Association: The Portuguese study mentioned above found another polyphenol called xanthohumol was actually MORE powerful than resveratrol at slowing breast cancer cell growth. And where can you girls get xanthohumol?

    Beer, of course.

    Also according to the British suds lobby, a glass of the average beer contains only 41 calories - less then either milk or fruit juice, and far below wine's 77 calories or hard liquor's whopping 250!

    That means for those watching their waistlines hoisting a daily pint or two may be the best way to go to get all the health benefits of alcohol with the minimum of caloric impact. If you ask me, though (remember, I don't work for the beer lobby), however you get your daily drink is perfectly fine

    Especially if you want to stay mentally sharp and cancer-free, ladies.

    Tipping a glass, but not tipping the scales,

    William Campbell Douglass II, MD

  3. Moderate Alcohol Consumption Benefits Women

    Regular responsible drinking carries particular health benefits for women; Beer found to contain very powerful antioxidant that slows breast cancer growth

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